Lord Waterford

The last butler of Curraghmore house

Last weekend I went for a walk along the river Clodiagh in the Curraghmore estate to take pictures for this blog dedicated to the last butler of Curraghmore and his lovely wife who finally retired and left for Portugal this summer.

Who says you cannot change your career and your whole life at the age of 50+? “Born and raised” in Transvaal, South Africa”, Basil Croeser moved to Ireland in 1998 and got a job as butler to 8th Marquess of Waterford. Good old times when the notorious “work experience” was not required: there were no butlers in South Africa, not at that time anyway.

Curraghmore

Basil served as butler for 12 years. Some of his duties included “seeing to His Lordship’s general well being; preparing and serving light meals; maintaining stock and equipment; maintaining and winding 17 antique clocks”. When His Lordship’s health started to deteriorate, Basil retired from his butler’s duties, and a new, younger butler was hired.¬†Basil was offered the role of a tour guide in the Curraghmore estate.

Old Lord Waterford passed away in 2015, and is remembered as a good and kindly neighbor. Current Lord Waterford doesn’t have a butler. That era is gone.

I have been in the House before, and I know the script, but that was a special day, and sadness was in the air as the last butler took us on his farewell tour.

Curraghmore

Basil’s tours and his unique knowledge will be missed.

The bags were already packed, as well as twenty years of memories. I wish them both a long and happy retirement!


These photographs I took for Basil and Colleen with a huge thank you for all they have done! ūüôā I came there early, less than an hour after the sunrise last Sunday, and parked outside the gate. The air was crisp and the sun just showed up from behind the forest.

Curraghmore

Suddenly the mist started to rise, first from the river, then from just about everything!

Curraghmore

In front of my eyes, the rippling steam rose from the grass. It was so thick that the sun rays couldn’t get through it.

The tree branches covered with moss started steaming too!

The sun rose higher and lit the tree tops.

What a magnificent morning!

Curraghmore

I crossed the bridge and walked along the river. A strange object caught my eye. It’s a tail! I quickly checked my settings.

squirrel

Red squirrel run too far and too high from me, but I noticed a big sweet chestnut in his mouth. I only know one such tree nearby, but it is on the other side of the river. What a brave little fella.

squirrel

Young pheasants are having a double date. There are hundreds of them in the woods.

pheasants

This one started to walk towards me – for a treat or for a fight?

pheasant

He stood just a few steps away, looking at me with one eye then the other before slowly walking away across the road.

pheasant

I walked across the bridge again to see the sweet chestnut tree ( and may be another squirrel) and visit the House. The other side of the river looked warm and welcoming.

Curraghmore

The pale yellow Ferns seem so fragile.

ferns

ferns

The sweet chestnut tree provided me with a lot of entertainment and some fifty pictures of its cute fruits. No squirrels though.

Sweet chestnut

sweet chestnut

The House is closed for public tours until the Easter 2019, but you can try to make an appointment.

Curraghmore

I turn to the road that would take me to the King John’s bridge. I still don’t give up hope to get a picture of Kingfisher, but apparently not today as a young couple with an off-leash dog turns into the same road. I let them pass, and dive into the dark side path that takes me in the opposite direction. A natural arrangement of sun-lit leaves in the puddle draws my attention. When I look at the picture, I am very pleased to see a hovering tiny bonus Syrphid fly and its shadow.

The path is quite dark, and I am not surprised that the only sunny spot is occupied. Young pheasant female doesn’t consider me a threat and makes herself cozy in the sun.

pheasant hen

No Kingfisher in sight, but a plump Dipper with a bright white bib looks over his shoulder at me with disapproval. Sorry, pal, my camera does make loud noises.

Dipper

The next stretch is a bamboo ‘forest’. After I finally emerge from the greenery, I step on my favorite ‘fairy path’ ūüôā It is all for today.

Curraghmore

Hope you all enjoyed the morning in Curraghmore as much as I did.

Here are more links to the Curraghmore stories : The Stag and the Dragon I ; The Stag and the Dragon II  ; The Tower  ;  Lady Florence ; Clonegam  There are many other related stories in this blog.

 Have a wonderful weekend!

The Stag and the Dragon I

Curraghmore House

After having seen Mother Brown we are going to walk straight to the place she is looking at – the Curraghmore House.

This July I visited Curraghmore House hoping to see a portrait of Lady Florence. Unfortunately they don’t have her portraits in the house. Otherwise, it was an amazing visit. If you go to Ireland, make sure you contact the tour guides and book yourself a ‚ā¨15 tour of the main reception rooms, Shell House and the garden. I promise you, it will be the highlight of your visit.

I do my best to remember everything that our guide is telling. Photography is not allowed in the House, and for the same reason I can not give you a detailed account on what I have seen, but I still can share some stories. Like the story of the Stag and the Dragon.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House was built by the la Poer family after their arrival in Ireland with the Norman invasion in the 12th century. It was a tower house with thick walls, and its facade was adorned with the family crest they brought from Normandy – a sculpture of a St Hubert Stag with genuine antlers, and the crucifix. Later a new house was built around the original tower, and a new stag sculpture carved by Sir Richard Boehm.

In 1701 a girl was born, Catherine, the only child of James Power, 3rd Earl of Tyrone and his wife Anne Rickard. The Earl soon died and left her all the family lands. The Earldom discontinued and her father’s cousin was supposed to move in the house and inherit the Barony, but it came out that he was a Jacobite, and Catherine and her mother were allowed to stay for a while to deal with them later. They stayed in the house until Catherine was fifteen and then the marriage was arranged with her cousin Sir Marcus Beresford, a Protestant, Freemason and politician. He became the man of the house. They got married exactly 300 years ago, on July 16 1717.

Lady Catherine gave birth to 15 children 9 of whom reached adulthood. Their firstborn, George, was made the first Marques of  Waterford.

Curraghmore House

Sir Marcus wanted a bigger house and Catherine knew that he would eventually remove the la Poer family crest and replace it with the Beresford family crest, a Dragon head pierced through the neck with a broken spear. She convinced her husband to rebuild the house so that the front faced Comeragh Mountains, and it was where the Dragon was placed. Until these days, the guests arrive to the front of the house, which is in the back, and both the Dragon and the Stag are still here, standing back to back. But it is not the whole story.

In 1922, during the Civil War, the order was given for this house to be burned. Some men came in the middle of the night, put the straw and left to return before the sunrise and finish the job. When they came back with the torches, the clouds suddenly parted, a full moon came out and the crucifix had cast a shadow on the ground. The men were terrified that they almost burned a Catholic house. They hurried away, and burned the Woodstock House shortly after.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

View of the Comeragh Mountains from the front porch.

Curraghmore House

Statues in the courtyard.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

In these apartments there used to be a doctor’s surgery and a teacher’s quarters.

Curraghmore House

Retired butler still lives here.

Curraghmore House

The Stables.

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Curraghmore House

Tea Rooms.

Curraghmore House

Next weekend we resume our walk around the Curraghmore House.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful week!

Mysteries of Clonegam

Clonegam

This is one of the most peaceful views in the country. You are slowly driving uphill watching for pheasants and cars coming in the opposite direction, and when you finally reach the top of the hill you stop for a second to take in the view of the green fields dotted with ancient trees – a pastoral landscape rolling towards the Comeragh Mountains. Curraghmore Demesne, beautiful like a picture.

Clonegam

I parked my car at the Clonegam Church gate and used the stony steps to get on the other side of the wall. The whole herd of cows stopped grazing and stared at me. I crept along the wall and tried to blend with background. My target was too far away, and I didn’t want any cow companion to follow me. First I had to reach this group of trees encircled with stones.

Clonegam

If you enlarge this picture, you will see the object I was heading to in the distance.

I am getting closer.

Clonegam

Finally there. Good afternoon, Mother Brown!

Clonegam

No one really knows what Mother Brown is. She is not listed in the Archeology inventory, and majority think that she was made 300 years ago. Not me. I am sure that her presence right near the stone circle and the grove of beech trees, which make you think of druids, has a meaning. If you still believe that all of this – the Mother, the trees and the stones are a folly, you have never stood in the grove, and never looked in Mother Brown’s face.

Clonegam

Clonegam

Clonegam

Mother Brown looks down the valley at the Curraghmore House, the ancestral home of Lords Waterford. I will write about my visit to the house later in November.

Clonegam

Clonegam

I fight the temptation to touch Mother Brown. How can I be sure she won’t find it disrespectful. I also mumble my apologies when I am taking pictures of her. Wishing her well, I retire to the beech trees and step over the stone circle fighting my doubts that I might get it all wrong again. But suddenly I feel peace and know that I am not offending anyone by standing there. I pat the tree trunks and we have a small chat.

Clonegam

I take a few photographs from the grove.

Clonegam

There are many tree stumps at various stages of decay.

Clonegam

Clonegam

Some of them are quite recent.

Clonegam

I have a thing for beech trees. Not only are they majestic and beautiful, but they also feed an army of wild creatures. They are like an autonomic world, an entity that will function long after we are all gone.

Clonegam

In the picture below you see the Clonegam church I have already written about.

Clonegam

As I was walking between this point and the church, many things happened.

First of all, I came across two sheep corpses of which I took pictures but won’t display them in this blog. I am afraid that the sheep died due to the complicated labor, and wild foxes and other predators finished the job. Sad.

Then I investigated the wall trying to figure out what was that sound that scared me on my visit last year. I didn’t find any answers on this side of the wall and decided to go to the graveyard again since it was still light. I have never forgotten that knocking sound. I know that at the steps of the church there is a footprint from goat, and it is haunted. Was that the sound of goat’s hooves clicking on the stone path?

To my surprise, the back gate was closed, and there was a small horse trailer standing at the front porch. I thought that was very strange. I kept walking towards the hole in the wall to climb over to my car when just behind my shoulder, someone said “huh” twice.

I jumped in the air and turned around. There was no one.

Slightly shaken, I walked faster, and then there was another ‘huh’. This time I realised it was coming from above. I lifted up my face in horror, and saw a group of goats looking down at me.

Clonegam

Clonegam

I was never so happy to see a goat…

The goats came running to the front gate where I stood. I think they were left in the graveyard to clear it of weeds, and thought I brought them some snacks to add to their boring diet. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any goat snacks with me.

As the front gate was closed, I tried to stick out my lens between the rails, but it didn’t work well and my pictures came out ‘framed’. Still, it was a fun photo session.

Clonegam

Clonegam

Clonegam

This one was a true sweetheart. He was standing and looking at me after all the other goats left. He pressed his forehead to the rails, and I was scratching his head and patting his back, and he loved it.

Clonegam

One of the Clonegam mysteries was solved.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

CIRCUMSTANCE OBSERVES NO PREFERENCE

Beautiful poetic response to the image and story of Lady Waterford by Mike Steeden.

- MIKE STEEDEN -

florence

Inspired by a true, sad story unearthed with only scant timeline facts left in historical record and subsequently the subject of a post by the wonderful photographer and lovely gal, Inese (https://inesemjphotography.com/ ) Her exquisite photo heads this ‚Äėalmost poem‚Äô. Plainly, I have availed myself of poetic licence in penning this.¬†

CIRCUMSTANCE OBSERVES NO PREFERENCE

Only within an enchanted island of gemstone green carpet

where a chivalrous white mist serves to guard from harm

the innocence of a new rainbow’s inviting curve

where if you listen hard enough you will hear forgotten

castle ruins whisper their darkest secrets

could the knife of Divine betrayal

cut so deep a wound

that the inevitable contagion that is grief

spreads far and wide

hunts down the blameless

loses track of the hideaway guilt

of purist happenstance

‚ÄúNo chance of a mother and child reunion, this side of eternity?‚ÄĚ

the last utterance…

View original post 332 more words

Lady Florence and Clonegam church

church

After I posted this photograph in my blog ¬†Abbeys and Churches, Mike Steeden, a fellow blogger, brilliant poet and a beautiful soul who is always advocating for the gals, looked up Lady Florence in Google and found¬†a¬†sad story of her short life. I also link this post to my favorite author¬†Shehanne Moore’s blog¬†because her heroines are not afraid to¬†travel between the worlds in the name of love. Please visit and follow these¬†amazing blogs.


Sometimes we find information where we least expect it.  I found mine in the Henry Poole & CO website in their very impressive customer list. This website is as classy as their exquisite bespoke tailoring. I checked out some genealogy websites, took a few pictures and here is another blog post about Lady Florence, Lord Waterford and Clonegam church. Clonegam church is a part of Curraghmore demesne. It has always been a family burial place for the De La Poer Beresford family, and Curraghmore has been their ancestral home since 1167.

Florence Grosvenor Rowley was born in Truro, Cornwall, in 1856 to Major George Rowley of the Bombay Cavalry and Emily Isabella Honner. She married Captain John Cranch Vivian in 1861 and had three daughters with him.

(The images are linked to the source)

by Camille Silvy, albumen print, 1860

Florence Grosvenor Rowley (by Camille Silvy, albumen print, 1860)

 

John Cranch Vivian

John Cranch Vivian

 

John Henry Beresford

John Henry Beresford 

John Henry Beresford was born in 1844 to John de la Poer Beresford and Christiana Leslie. In his youth, he was said to be ‘one of the handsomest officers that ever wore the uniform of the Household Brigade’. Lord John was also a fearless horseman. Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, a famous author of fourteen comic operas¬†he wrote in collaboration with Sir Arthur Sullivan, refers to Lord John as ‘reckless and rollicky’ in Colonel Calverley’s song from Patience.

I don’t know how they met, but I am sure¬†it was all over the papers at that time. In 1869 John Henry Beresford, 5th Marquess of Waterford, absconded to Paris with Florence Vivian, the wife of Captain John Vivian. Outraged husband pursued the couple to the Hotel Westminster, but his wife refused to return with him and attempted suicide by swallowing chloroform. Captain sued for divorce.

The Marquess and Florence married in 1872. They lived at 7 Upper Brook Street in London and at the Curraghmore house. In April 1873 Florence gave birth to a stillborn child, and died three days later at 27 Chesham Place, that was home of Marquess of Waterford at that time.

The 5th Marquess remarried in 1874 and had four children. His wife Lady Blanche Somerset, daughter of the 8th Duke of Beaufort later suffered from severe illness that left her paralyzed. She had a special carriage to carry her around the Curraghmore estate.

In 1883 the 5th Marquess of Waterford had suffered a spinal injury after being thrown from his horse on the way home from¬†a dining party. He spent the rest of his life in the wheelchair, ‘silent and depressed’. On October 23, 1895 he was found dead in the library of Curraghmore house with a bullet in his head. He died by¬†his own hand at the age of 51, 121 year ago tomorrow. His wife died two years later. Lord Waterford was succeeded in Marquessate by his only son Henry.

On Henry Poole & CO website, National Library of Australia website and also here¬† you can read about¬†an¬†impostor who wrote to¬†Lord¬†Waterford shortly before his death and claimed to be¬†his legitimate son with Lady Florence, named George Tooth. He tormented the family for years and took the case to court in 1917 but didn’t succeed. There were witnesses who testified that the baby was dead and buried before his mother died, and the impostor is not ‘the missing Tooth’.

This is a look at the Clonegam church if you are coming from Portlaw.

portlaw-010

The back gate of the church yard. In the distance, you see the lake and arboretum, but Curraghmore house itself is hidden in the trees.

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This cross was erected in memory of Henry De La Poer 6th Marquis of Waterford and his family members.

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Peaceful view from the church yard. I took this picture two years ago.

2015-03-14-113

To take this picture I am standing on the other side of the wall. It is quite dark, and I have a feeling that I am pushing my luck again ūüôā

portlaw-186

Sunset comes early around here because of the mountains on the west.

ch

The back gate is opened and I sneak to the graveyard. Looks like I am not the only one ‘trespassing’.

portlaw-105

I walk around the church taking pictures of the gravestones and sheep. Suddenly I hear a soft knocking sound, and it is quite unnerving. The sound continues. I start slowly backing out, my heart is pounding and I forget to breathe. I am already close to the back gate when the sheep start leaving the graveyard too, swiftly and soundlessly.

portlaw-164

I run through the¬†gate and make a big circle to keep a distance from the church wall. Yet, I have to get to my car that is parked right next to this lovely house adorned with pale ghostly looking fuchsias…

portlaw-200

Mentally exhausted, I drive up the hill, and down the narrow road to Portlaw, praying that no tractor comes in the other direction.

portlaw-201

Thank you for reading about Marquesses of Waterford and running from¬†ghosts with me ūüôā In my next post¬†I will write about the most haunted place I know, because it is Halloween!

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!